Monday, December 10, 2018

Prophecy Fulfilled 010

The Book of Mormon has a recurring prophecy whose chronology helps establish the location of Nephite and Lamanite lands in the New World. In a nutshell, the prophecy says European gentiles will come to the Americas, dispossess the numerous Lamanites, then drive the Lamanites almost to extinction. After the Lamanites are nearly wiped out, their fortunes will reverse and the fullness of the Gospel will become available to them through the Book of Mormon. Enlightened Lamanites will become a force to be reckoned with among many gentile nations. The prophetic timeline is: a) large Lamanite populations followed by b) gentile invasion which causes c) Lamanite demographic collapse to near extinction, which is followed by d) Joseph Smith and the restoration, which is followed by e) Lamanites regaining power. Latin American history precisely matches this pattern. US and Canadian history contradicts it. According to this prophecy, Book of Mormon lands will be found in Latin America.

The prophetic pattern in chronological order:
A. Large Lamanite populations. 1 Nephi 12:1-3.
   B. Gentile invasion. 2 Nephi 1:11.
      C. Lamanites driven nearly to extinction. 2 Nephi 26:15.
   D. The restoration. Mormon 5:20.
E. Lamanites regain power. 3 Nephi 20:16.

Supporting scriptural passages:
A. Large Lamanite populations. Mormon 1:7.
   B. Gentile invasion. 1 Nephi 13:14, Helaman 15:12, 3 Nephi 16:8-9.
      C. Lamanites driven nearly to extinction. 1 Nephi 13:30-312 Nephi 3:3,  Helaman 15:16.
   D. The restoration. 1 Nephi 10:14, 1 Nephi 13:342 Nephi 26:16, Mosiah 12:8.
E. Lamanites regain power. 3 Nephi 16:12, 20:19.

We know key dates in this chronology. Sustained European intrusion began with Columbus in 1492. The restoration began with the birth of Joseph Smith on December 23, 1805 and continued through the First Vision in the spring of 1820 and the coming forth of the Book of Mormon on March 26, 1830. One example of Lamanites regaining power was Benito Juarez (1806 - 1872), beloved Zapotec President of Mexico, inagurated on January 15, 1858.

So, when were the Lamanites almost exterminated? Historical demographers call this a population nadir or low point as opposed to a zenith or high point. An excellent source for indigenous New World demography is William M. Denevan, editor, The Native Population of the Americas in 1492, second edition, (Madison and London: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1992).
Credible Source for Native American Demographics
Denevan's estimate for the native population of the hemisphere in 1492 is 53,904,000, of which 3,790,000 were north of the Rio Grande and 50,114,000 were south of it. Native population in Latin America reached its nadir in 1650 when only 4,000,000 indigenous individuals remained. In what would become the US and Canada, on the other hand, 1,600,000 natives were alive in 1650, some populations such as the Sac and Fox in Wisconsin, were increasing, and much of North America (Alaska, Canada) had been only marginally affected by European contact. The indigenous population in the US reached its nadir in 1890 when there were only 250,000 native Americans still living. The native population in Alaska and Canada reached its nadir about 1910 when 150,000 original Americans were still alive. So, the depopulation factor from zenith (contact) to nadir was 12.5 to 1 in Spanish and Portuguese America and 9.5 to 1 in English America.

President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act on May 28, 1830 and the disastrous Trail of Tears from the southeastern US to Indian Territory (later Oklahoma) played out between 1831 and 1850. The Book of Mormon says the Lamanites would be driven and smitten almost out of existence prior to the restoration. The 240 year difference between native population nadirs in Latin America (1650) and English North America (1890 - 1910) means this particular Book of Mormon prophetic chronology fits best in a Latin American context. US history is a direct contradiction of 1 Nephi 15:17 and 3 Nephi 20:15.

This is the tenth in a series of articles about fulfillment of Book of Mormon prophecies. You may also enjoy articles 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007, 008, and 009. Book of Mormon authors wrote their texts in part to demonstrate history vindicating prophets.

Kirk Magleby volunteers as Executive Director of Book of Mormon Central, whose mission is to build faith in Jesus Christ by making the Book of Mormon accessible, comprehensible, and defensible in all the world. Book of Mormon Central currently publishes in English and Spanish.